What is it with Julie Bishop, the she feels she always has to spit her words out? There's a feeling of permanent anger, or barely concealed contempt, of 'Mrs Bitch' in everything she says.
This morning on the radio she was still rabbiting on about the Schools Stimulus. Its success in preventing a haemorrhaging of jobs in the trades during the GFC seems to have mollified her crankiness not at all. Other countries are dealing with high unemployment still, but Julie and her party seem to despise the fact that the Australian workforce has been sustained, in most part at least, as a viable economic unit.
Perhaps the Liberals are annoyed that avoiding unemployment has also avoided a sort of Bosses' Paradise, where employers can freely pick and choose who will work, and pay appropriately lower wages? I wonder what miseries WorkChoices would have brought us in that situation, had it still been around? Thankfully we will never know for sure.
Perhaps Julie and her colleagues are just annoyed that the incompetent, inept (their words) Rudd government had a success, by NOT taking the Liberals' advice to cut spending and go the low road. Bishop (on ABC's AM this morning) was still pounding the desk about how the Rudd government had not built major infrastructure - ports, highways and airports presumably - but had instead constructed jerry-built school halls and fences around playgrounds.
Put aside fact that the $16 billion spent on schools would have built about one airport, or a paltry 100km of dual-lane freeway - in one location, leaving the rest of the country to wallow in recession - or that the plans would likely not even be off the drawing board yet for such major projects (so little real work would have been generated), Julie chose to be angry that thousands of trades people and their families and the businesses that depend on their custom managed, in this country, to struggle through an economic downturn that has brought even the US to its knees economically. Why they are angry about this is hard to tell, unless it's just pique.
Julie Bishop is not the only one. When was the last time anyone heard or read an optimistic word on any subject from Joe Hockey? Even his cherished Republic is now a poor choice for a referendum. Tony Abbott is legendary for his blue language. It seems Tony can get away with expressions like 'toxic bore', or 'shit-eating grin' all day long, while Rudd's words never get a fair shake of the sauce bottle from commentators (they are either too bland or too harsh). Perhaps Abbott is given special leave by the commentators to use marginal language because that is what they expect of him. They, and perhaps the people too expect Tony Abbott and his party to be angry. Maybe that's what is seen as their role in society: anger. If so, I think the portents are bad for the conservatives.
The Liberals have become the Grumpy Old Party of Australian politics. Backed up by grumpy, whingeing shock-jocks and their grumpy, whingeing audiences - today expressing anger at our 'Tourist Prime Minister', or high taxes, tomorrow back on about how easy it is to get a job if you're prepared to work for low wages - they have brought grumpiness back into the political scene.
We all know someone who is permanently grumpy. Nothing is to their satisfaction. Everything is broken, or falls short in some way. Life is unfair to them. Minor annoyances send them up the wall. If only they ruled the world.
Of course, we avoid these people. Sure, a little anger is appropriate on occasion, but the permanently grumpy person is a turn-off. You know you're never going to get a pleasant or positive word passing their lips. There's always the chance they will turn on you if you don't tread carefully. It's all negative, all the time with the Grumpies.
So, how can Abbott, Bishop, Hockey and crew hope to impress voters whose jobs have been saved, who are expressing confidence in the economy in record percentages, by grumpily complaining that we should have all done it tougher, for much longer? Do they think that a sour demeanour in the face of economic sunlight and optimism is a 'good look'? Can the Liberals really believe they are going to capture and hold the imagination of the Australian people with chronic ire?